«TRANSNATIONALE BROSCHÜRE und Die Prozesse der Unterrichtung, Beratung aktiver Beteiligung der Arbeitnehmer im Agrarsektor – eine Perspektive zu ...»
The trade unions and employees’ representatives claim to have been acquainted with the information and consultation legislation and, respectively, to have brought it to the knowledge of their members. However, it turns out that just over half of the employees’ representatives are aware of the existence of such legislation. The awareness rate is slightly higher among the employers. While about half of the employers seem to be well familiar with the I and C procedure, this finding (source – CESE) shows the real lack of information about the behavior of the enterprise.
Romanian employees are represented by the trade unions in the workplace. Nevertheless, the legislation allows the elections of employees’ representatives in enterprises and establishments which do not have a trade union organization.
The local trade union structures are entitled to a decisive involvement in collective bargaining in addition to having broad powers in terms of consultation. As regards information and consultation, the employer is obliged to consult the trade union on decisions that “may substantially affect their rights and interests” (the Romanian Labor Code); this obligation relates to a number of issues, such as, for example, the arrangements for paid leave, health and safety at work, the annual training plans and the internal rules of the enterprise. The trade union shall also be consulted on dismissal matters, as it is entitled to make proposals about preventing or reducing dismissals (the employer shall respond to such proposals within 10 days;
furthermore, the employer shall consult the trade union on a “social plan” for mitigating the negative consequences). In the event of relocating activities, the enterprise transferring the activity and the enterprise taking it over shall consult the trade
TRANSNATIONAL BROCHUREunion. The trade union shall also be consulted on the introduction of flexible working hours, the use of the enterprise’s social facilities, e.g. the canteen. The information and consultation rights have been enhanced via the legislation transposing the 2002 Directive, which lays down the general framework for information and consultation. This legislation was passed in 2006 and has been effective since 1 January 2007; it obliges the employer to inform and consult the employees in relation to the current state of the enterprise and likely development of its activity, the state and probable development of employment, as well asany decisions that can result in considerable changes in labor arrangements, in contractual relations or employment relations.
There are cases where taking measures is conditional on the consent of the trade union. Such are the cases where the employer wants the employees to work for over 15 consecutive days or where the workload is determined. The measures related to training in health and safety at work shall be negotiated with the trade union and the board for health and safety at work. Furthermore, the trade union shall endorse the bonus system, the non-paid short periods of suspending the activity due to technical reasons, a drop in the output. Trade union members have lost a considerable part of the protection against dismissal which they used to have. The right of trade union activists to use a certain part of the working hours for the purpose of their tasks is regulated in the collective bargaining agreements. The five days they were entitled to in past have been revoked. Employees’ representatives are entitled to 20 hours / month. The employer is also obliged to provide the trade union with premises for its activity, as well as office equipment, e.g. a fax machine.
B. Agricultural sector position of AGrostAr According to the answers of the local partner Agrostar, EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture many employers in the agricultural sector do not observe the provisions of the legislation regarding I and C; moreover, they declare their reluctance to inform he employees about the state of the enterprise. Such an attitude is in unison with the overall attitude of the Romanian state, which till recently did not seem willing to foster social relations within enterprises.
The employer is obliged to ensure that the employees are familiar with their right to information and consultation, as well as with other labor rights. Nevertheless, a substantial number of employers do not observe the legal provisions on informing and consulting workers and employees – they simply do not wish to inform them. The observance of the I and C principle and entitlement is an obligation of the Agrostar Federation;
the Federation has taken actions at different levels to ensure achieving this objective and putting in place such an approach that would enable employees’ representatives to make full use of their rights. Membership in a trade union organization is, indeed, a key condition for the successful observance of rights – an information procedure is up and running where there is a trade union organization and events organized by it: meetings with trade union representatives or trade union members. This is due to the fact that these representatives are duly elected and organized, in particular in relation to difficult and complex matters, thus acting as a mechanism similar to the collective bargaining agreement.
Generally speaking, AGROSTAR has established the lack of efficiency in the I and C procedures, which will persist as long as the majority of employers refuse to observe he legislation in force. At present it is not only employers that are viewed in a negative context; the European Commission reports on Romania under the CVM mechanism contain some unfavorable comments, in particular in terms of fundamental rights issues. The attitude of the government is not systematic;
in most cases, where instructions are received from Brussels,
TRANSNATIONAL BROCHUREthe state would rather implement them,as such instructions are followed by verifications of the progress achieved.
position of eMpLoYers Interviewees – 7 questionnaires have been filled out.
They cover three sectors focused mainly on cattle-breeding.
The enterprises interviewed have from 44 up to 300 employees.
Processing of responses – In all the cases, interviewees indicate that the employer has brought to their knowledge the right to information and consultation. Hence, in terms of awareness, the relations between employers and employees seem to be normal. The answers to the question whether he employer has selected the employees’ representatives can be
interpreted in two ways:
Ͻ either the employer selects the employees’ representatives (which is hardly the case in view of the following questions) – a procedure which seems strange;
Ͻ or the employer keeps for himself the right to accept and approve a certain employee or another one as a representative, but is this lawful and normal? What are the objective criteria for making the judgment?
The second answer seems to be confirmed under the next question about the nomination of candidates. All the answers clearly point to the fact that the employees themselves nominate them. Moreover, most answers say that the employees convene the general assembly. Three of the answers say that the employers themselves decide (does the fact that the total number of answers exceeds the number of interviewees mean that in some cases the procedure is a joint one?) In most enterprises the I and C procedure has been initiated in the absence, however, of the reasons for opening such a procedure, except for one case where the enterprise started mass redundancies or the employees were informed about planned developments in terms of remuneration and social protection. Of course, the questionnaire does not concern EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture the grounds for initiating an I and C procedure. The absence of an answer does not allow making satisfactory conclusions, which entails the risk of misinterpretations – maybe this procedure has been used as a tool of communication where the employees were unable to fully exercise their rights? It should be noted that the following answers show that in most cases there is a procedural agreement on the topics in respect of which an I and C procedure shall be initiated. However, this seems to be the case with large enterprises. The respondents have not described in details the content of the existing agreements in their enterprises. We deem it appropriate to ask for more information on that issue at the conference.
As regards the provision of information about the economic and financial standing of the enterprise, a variety of
practices have been indicated in the responses:
Ͻ The case (4 answers) where communication goes through letters, e-mails, meetings. This seems to be an informal procedure;
Ͻ The case where the director general provides information to the staff at joint events;
Ͻ Lastly, the case where the employer provides information to the staff at a general assembly.
The answers show that either there is not a formal procedure for informing the employees about the economic and financial standing of the enterprise or, if there is one, it is not observed.
The survey does not provide an answer to the question whether the employees have been acquainted with the content of Directive 2002/14/EC: except for one negative answer, there are no views expressed on that matter. Can we conclude that the lack of an answer amounts to the full lack of knowledge about the EU legislation on this topic? As it stands, the membership or the absence of membership in an organization does not imply that the interpretation of the employees’ right to
information and consultation is not the same in all the cases – according to 4 answers (only in 2 enterprises) this matter is addressed by the organization’s bodies, while according to another 3 answers this is not the case.
According to the interviewees, the role of the state is of real relevance, as most of them uphold the need for the state to take more measures in relation to the procedure and the practice of implementing the right to information and consultation. This is a justified answer, as the same interviewees admit that this is a basic right within the EU.
Position of WORKERS and EMPLOYEES Interviewees – 8 questionnaires have been filled out in different areas (agriculture, flower-growing, pomiculture, wine production, poultry-breeding).
Processing of responses:
There are few data about the number of employees in enterprises. Only three answers contain figures and their relevance is very limited; moreover, they concern very small enterprises. The lack of responses does not allow us to make a judgment as to the implementation of the information and consultation procedures within the various groups of enterprises.
At the enterprise level, the approach to I and C issues varies – in 3 of the enterprises these issues are addressed, in 2 of them – they are not addressed, while for another 3 there is no answer. Most of the interviewees, however, claim that information and consultation is a topic at the sector level. Firstly, the social dialogue at the sector level (agriculture and rural development) – it enables addressing this topic, as well as other ones (for example, in relation to EU funds, new operational programs). Secondly, the effective legislation, in particular the one resulting from the EU legislation, obliges employers to inform and consult their employees under specific circumstances – it is obvious that at the sector level employers observe their obligations.
EU ProjEct VS/2012/003/0305 Informed and experienced for sustainable agriculture Trade union training is available for half of the trade union activists who have responded. The training topics are the fight against illegal employment, overtime and the payment for additional hours, the observance of collective bargaining agreements, agriculture and its development in Europe. A considerable part of the interviewees refer to trade union organizations, civil servants, sector associations.
Communication with the staff is weak – only three enterprises provide information on boards, another three do not provide any information, while the representatives of another two have not given an answer.
Undoubtedly, the presence of a trade union organization is an advantage for the observance of employees’ rights – the interviewees assess the information procedure as being conducted in a timely and adequate manner. However, this happens when the relevant trade union is representative. In case it is not, i.e. the representatives are chosen by the employer, the latter uses this mechanism as a tool at his discretion. There are very few data about the number of enterprises where normal representativeness rules are abided by. One single answer in the questionnaire does not provide grounds for such a conclusion. Neither do we have data concerning the arrangement for the nomination of candidates. This is an issue to be addressed. The practice of the employer choosing the representatives on his own is indicated in one case, and the consequence from this is the subordination of the relevant representatives to the employer. On the other hand, some employers do not take any initiatives to facilitate the representation of employees on the grounds of “non-interference in the employees’ internal affairs”.
Most of the trade union managers who have answered the questions about the employees’ representatives agree that the trade unions are a privileged partner in the dialogue with the employer. Only two answers share the opposite opinion.
TRANSNATIONAL BROCHUREThe role of trade unions is viewed in a positive way, as most interviewees say that it is trade unions that should address the issues pertaining to collective bargaining agreements, social inclusion, integration on the labor market, remuneration, health and safety at work, social protection. In conclusion, the trade unions are assigned a role at both the enterprise and the sector levels.
Few respondents share their opinion regarding the efficiency of the I and C procedure. This is probably due to the lack of experience, on the one hand, and to the lack of communication, on the other hand.